skyscraper

As we roll into 2012 with emerging artists poised to strike with their new tunes, we’re aware that there will be reinventions this year with popular acts; motivated by the simple attempt to stay ‘hip’ in order to maintain their audiences.

It’s understandable that popular musicians undergo a stylistic change – the music industry whom the artist represents is well aware of the range of audiences it has to cater for. This is no novel practice and has been habituated by various artists for decades. In the past this has resulted in an increases of success and also horrible failures.

Let’s look at some artists who in the past have undergone dramatic changes:

Katy Hudson to Katy Perry

Almost everyone on the planet is aware of Katy Perry – the coquettish temptress who sings catchy songs directed at teens – and the huge level of popularity she wields through her distinct image and salacious undertones. This present ‘Katy’ is so far removed from her initial persona – an evangelist singer on the now defunct Christian Rock Label Red Hill.

After the collapse of Red Hill she changed her name to Katy Perry and signed with Columbia Records where she began working on her second album. But this project was later scrapped and Perry was on the verge of being dropped from the label completely. Perry was re-signed to Capitol Music Group and it was here that her image underwent a DRAMATIC change.

The label molded Perry into the bankable pop star she is today; Perry released tracks such as Ur So Gay and I Kissed A Girl using ‘bi-curiousity’ as a device to sell records.

What if Perry had remained a Christian Rock singer? Well, for one she could have attempted to emulate the glory of Eric Cartman’s Myrrh album. Wouldn’t be that hard, she’d just have to tweak her Christian Rock songs by replacing the words ‘love’ and ‘baby’ with Jesus.

Cartman is awarded his Myrrh album

Mark and Donnie Walhberg

Mark Wahlberg gained notoriety in New Kids on the Block with his older brother Donnie, but soon after joining Mark quit and began recording under the moniker Marky Mark in his group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Here he released Music for the People which went platinum.

By 1993 Mark Walhberg had dropped his moniker as well as the image from his hip-hop/eurodance group and transitioned from the music industry to the film industry, allowing him to attain greater fame with memorable movies such as I Heart HuckabeesBoogie Nights and The Departed.

The TV show Entourage has been cited as a loose portrayal of Wahlberg’s rise as an actor and his entrance into Hollywood. Even featuring a character who is based on his brother Donnie played by THE BROTHER of Matt DillonKevin Dillon.

Donnie Walhberg who began in the boy band New Kids on the block also made the transition from popular musician. In 1996 he was acting alongside the likes of Mickey Rourke and also Mel Gibson. Starring in such productions as Band of BrothersSaw 2 and The Sixth Sense.

Both Wahlberg brothers were able to achieve longevity in the public spotlight by going through an image change and transcending industries.

Vanilla Ice (real name Robert Van Winkle)

Robert Van Winkle’s story is a turbulent one – starting out as a popular hip-hop artist he crashed and burned as a result of a drastic yet unsuccessful image change.

Beginning his career under the moniker Vanilla Ice, Van Winkle initially opened for legendary hip-hop acts such as N.W.A., Public Enemy and The D.O.C. eventually signing to SBK Records and releasing To The Extreme. To The Extreme was the fastest selling hip-hop album of all time with ‘Ice Ice Baby’ the first hip-hop song to top the Billboard Charts. He sold 11 million copies of this debut album with SBK… so what happened next?

Well first off he starred in the 1991 movie Cool as Ice, playing a freewheelin’ motorcycle rapper who embroils himself in peoples lives. Unfortunately for Mr Winkle it was a bit of a flop.

After years of touring Ice had distanced himself from the image that was created of him under SBK. Ice created a new image for himself heavily influenced by Rastafarian culture; he grew dreadlocks, became a vegetarian, and rapped about smoking weed instead of…….wait what did vanilla ice rap about anyway? This new image shift took a darker tone with Ice attempting to establish himself as more ‘legit’ releasing the album Mind Blowin.

Let’s just say the world wasn’t ready for Ice’s second stab at fame.

Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre started out in the 80’s electro group World Class Wreckin’ Cru, who created their unique sound by fusing electro-funk and old school rap. The group received a significant level of success with their electro-rap sound as well as their image of glitzy purple leather and sequin suits which was popular at the time, originally showcased by such famous acts as Michael Jackson and Prince.

It is interesting to note that Dre’s image shift was not orchestrated by any major record label, but by his own accord. By the mid-80’s Dre had grown tired of the group’s image and longed to express himself differently with other production opportunities. This led him to meeting Easy-E and along with Ice Cube he formed N.W.A, adopting a more gangsta approach to his music.

Eventually Dre signed with Death Row Records where he would solidify his image as one of the best hip-hop producers in the industry, mentoring successful acts such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem.

Stefani Germanotta to Lady Gaga

Talented singer/songwriter and gifted pianist Stefani Germanotta was a student at NYU. She formed a band called The Stefani Germanotta Band with college friends and the band played around Manhattan’s bars, building up a small fan base. Her ascent to stardom started when she was discovered at one of her gigs in 2006 by music producer Rob Fusari; it was with Fusari that the name Lady Gaga was coined. Signing a music publishing deal with Sony/ATV she was transformed into the global icon she is today.